Slashed workforce and fewer regulations led to East Palestine train derailment

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio on February 6, 2023. Photo credit: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

East Palestine, Ohio, is still reeling after a freight train — that was carrying hazardous materials — got derailed. A massive toxic plume has spread, killing fish in the Ohio River, and residents have reported sick and dead pets. People are angry and terrified of the long-term environmental and health consequences. In a statement, Norfolk Southern Railway said they were “increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees.”

The derailment likely could have been avoided. In recent years, the rail industry has successfully beaten back increased government safety regulations, while slashing its workforce by nearly a third, while reaping record profit. Last year, the company took in a record $12.7 billion.